This simple cathedral (Sé in Portuguese), which from the outside is almost unnoticed, was built in the 14th century, and is Gothic style architecture. It is found in the large square in the heart of the old town, at Largo da Sé, very close to the seafront. Both the tower and the cathedral can be visited after going through the ticket office. The ticket includes climbing the tower, which offers the best views of Faro, a visit inside the impressive cathedral, access the relics museum, and a tour the small courtyard, which has a small altar. Visiting Faro is essential, not only for the views, but also the cathedral grounds. Entrance is 3€
Bears some resemblance to the Wall of the Macarena in Seville. It's nice just to walk around and I recommend visiting a ceramics store/ workshop from the fifteenth century where some of XII is set with medieval music and you can see the men in the shop working with the old tools. Very enjoyable.
This beautiful fine sand beach, several miles long, is located at one end of the Natural Park of Ria Formosa. Our first intention was to do one of the many walking tours there in order to observe the herons and flamingos that migrate each winter from central and northern Europe to one of the most important wetlands in southern Europe. The weather looked like rain and we had to settle for only visiting this beautiful beach. I'm not sure that anyone will remember the Masiel song from the 60s called "ROSES IN THE SEA", but, we found a white rose abandoned in the rolling waves and we could see a glimpse of the sun on the horizon between the dark clouds. One thing I didn't understand about this place was how an engineer could think to put an airport in this park.
The Lighthouse Marina is located on the coast of the huge Formosa River estuary. Within walking distance of the Old Town, it's one of the most picturesque places in the city, thanks to the colorful yachts, sailboats and other boats docked there, and the beautiful landscape, where you can have a coffee on the terrace, take a ride on the tourist train or get a ticket for a tour of Armona Island.
Castelo de Paderne was built by the Moors (twelfth century) and Arabs (fourteenth century) and according to historical data was inhabited until the sixteenth century, now only some ruins remain. By the archaeological discoveries made it was presumably a fortified village. In 1248 it was conquered by D. Paio Peres Correira, that's why the flag of Portugal is one of the castles that appears. It has been a Property of Public Interest since 1971. Little is preserved and the walls and a tower are in very poor condition of. The data correspond to the Parish Council of Paderne.
After leaving our hotel and after spending all day in Faro, we stopped at this huge mall near the international airport. With an area of 45,000 m2 and designed by Broadway Malyan is the very best I've found so far in Europe in terms of architecture and variety of options for shopping. With a semi-openair section, another which is covered and an impressive car-park you can anything from a large commercial area like Jumbo to secluded Zara stores, C & A etc. Cortefiel. And more over if it's Christmas time you can see the great tree of lights they put on their outdoor esplanade. I'm not a lover of shopping but I loved this centre.
The Arco da Vila, or arc of the city, is one of the medieval gates of entry to the historic lighthouse opposite the marina, the Banco de Portugal and the Church of Mercy. It is a National Monument and was built in 1812 by architect Francisco Xavier Fabri by the order of Bishop Francisco Gomes. It has a neoclassical facade, inside the arch there is a horseshoe arched wall belonging to Arabic walls and architecture. On the outside, there is a niche with the image of St. Thomas Aquinas.
This was the first church we saw in Faro, and after seeing much of the city I can say I consider it the prettiest. It is a baroque temple of great proportions, which is accessed via a single staircase, with two bell towers, one on each side of the main foundation. It was founded in 1713 by Bishop D. Antonio Pereira da Silva, although it has undergone several reconstructions since then, especially after the great earthquake in Lisbon. The revolt against the French began here in 1808. Both the chapel and the sides are adorned with gilded baroque altarpieces made in the eighteenth century. Inside are the nine images used during the Procissão do Triunfo, made by Manuel Martins. Walking down toward the historic city center you encounter the Church of San Pedro very close by.
From the bell tower of the Faro Cathedral one can enjoy the best views of the city, as it is one of the tallest buildings in the town and has a perfect location, just a few meters from the sea. To access the belfry you have to pay the admission to visit the cathedral, 3 €, and walk up a few steps, but it's worth it. Up top are some binoculars which you can use to get a closer look at the lagoon, and the bells are within hands reach.
The triangle formed between the squares Ferreira Almeida, Freedom and Francisco Gomes forms a maze of pedestrian streets, with the major retailers and financial institutions of Faro. you can go for a very pleasant stroll through the Vasco de Gama or Santo Antonio street or any of the small squares that suddenly appeared. The different restaurants and cafes in the area have terraces that invite you for a drink or food. I was struck by the extreme cleanliness of the streets, the beautiful cobblestone pavement, and the typical two-storey houses with tile facades, like the store. The towel drying awnings are well mounted stores both clothing and jewelry stores, franchises (like Mango), and even the recently opened Atrium Mall.
From the Palácio Belmarco continue down until you reach the Largo de São Francisco, where the walls are. We entered the old town through a gate next to the Castle, and from there, down Rua do Trem to arrive at Cathedral Square. The square is very large and is paved. In the center is a sculpture on a pedestal dedicated to Bishop Francisco Gomez do Avelar. Without doubt, the most significant aspect of the square is the Cathedral, it's well worth a visit, because apart from the church, you can climb the bell tower and visit the museum. Other buildings on the perimeter of the square are the Seminary and the Episcopal Palace. Just behind the seminar is the iconic Arco da Vila, which takes you outside the Vila Adentro.
The neighbourhood of Vila-Adentro is located within the walled city of Faro. This is what remains of the city's splendor before the 1755 earthquake. You enter via the Arco da Vila which was built by the order of Bishop Francisco Gomes de Alvear and designed by the Genoese architect Francisco Javier Fabri. In front of it you can see a statue of St. Thomas Aquinas. Continuing along the Rua do Municipio, you'll find the Praca Largo de Se where you can see the Faro Cathedral, Town Hall, the Seminary and the Episcopal Palace. To the right of the cathedral, there's a pleasant walk down the Rua do Raposuso to the Church of Rapouso and the statue of Alfonso III. Once outside the enclosure, you can see the remains of the walls and a mosaic that tells stories about King Alfonso III. It's a lovely trip in winter, although I guess it would be a bit hot in summer.
The city hall or municipal chamber of Faro is located in the center of Vila-Adentro. The construction of the building began in 1883 and lasted for many decades. In 1945 the main facade of the building was renovated under the responsibility of architect Jorge Oliveira. The facade of the building features the shield of Portugal and inside is the staircase leading to the main floor.
Inside the Cathedral Church, at it;s feet, you'll find a staircase lined with gorgeous embedded tile from the seventeenth century, accessing the cathedral museum. Up the first flight of stairs is a landing from which you can view the interior of the Cathedral from up above. The museum consists of several rooms, where sacred art objects, figurines, carvings, paintings, clothing and liturgical objects are on display.
Plaza de San Francisco has the best preserved remains of the main city walls of Faro. They were built in the IX century, during the Muslim occupation, and modified in the XI century with the construction of watchtowers and the Arco do Repouso, one of the entrances to the old town. The Castle was built inside the enclosure and the walls have been renovated numerous times throughout history.
I photographed this building as I was struck by its facade. Then I discovered that it was the Belmarco Palace, one of the most emblematic buildings of Faro, which houses official administrative offices. It's in the vicinity of the Walls, Plaza de San Francisco and the Castle, on the corner of San Francisco and José María Brandeiro streets. It has 2 floors, topped by a kind of tower and was built as the residence of a wealthy merchant (named Belmarco) in the early twentieth century. It has traces of art nouveau style and what catches your attention is the tower facade, wrought-iron balconies and decorative elements made of carved stone (such as head of a woman next to the access door).
Inside the grounds of the Cathedral, next to the bell tower, there's a small cloister with this chapel and ossuary. It's a small shrine with a kind of front sideboard with multiple chandeliers and a crucified Christ, flanked by three other sculptures on pedestals. But what I liked most were the two huge canvases on each of the side walls, one of them represents the Adoration.
The entrance fee to the Cathedral also includes a visit to the ossuary, which is accessed by the small cloister next to the bell tower and the outer chapel. It's an old cemetery with several tombstones in the ground and the altar has the image of the Virgin in a niche. I found it shocking because it's built entirely with bones and skulls!
Like the rest of the Algarve coast, beaches top the list of things to do in Faro. In contrast to the rocky cliffs and churning waters common in the Algarve, Faro's beaches will surprise you with their calm waters and vast stretches of soft sand. Isla de Faro is one of the most popular places to visit in Faro and a top summertime destination for local and international travelers. The beaches of Deserta and Armona also rank among the top Faro attractions for beach lovers.
For some history and culture, cross the Arco da Porta Nova the walled Old Town, home to some of the most important attractions in Faro like Faro Cathedral, the Episcopal Palace and the City Hall. Next on your route of things to see in Faro, exit the old town through the Arco do Repouso and continue until the Igreja do Carmo.
If all this sightseeing has you tuckered out, one of the most relaxing Faro activities is visiting the Ria Formosa lagoon, a massive expanse of wetlands that's home to dozens of species of migratory birds traveling between Africa and Europe. Other interesting stuff to do in Faro includes the Museu Regional Do Algarve, Faro Castle and the Palácio de Estoi.
For more on what to do in Faro, have a look at the recommendations from real travelers and locals on minube.